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What's Your Culinary Birthmark?

Baked yam, recipes below
Guest blogger Jack Shalom 

In Ralph Ellison novel Invisible Man, the narrator, a young black southerner recently expelled from college in his junior year struggles to find his identity. He migrates North to New York City in the 1940s.  The narrator had been ashamed of his southern culinary identity eating some foods in public. While walking streets of Harlem one night he’s hit with the delicious smell of baked yams that an old street vendor is selling. The encounter causes him to become nostalgic about home. The protagonist says, “to hell with being ashamed of what you like. No more of that for me. I am what I am! I wolfed down the yam and ran back to the old man and handed him twenty cents, ‘Give me two more.’” Sure he said, “‘I can see you one of these old-fashioned yam eaters.’ ‘They’re my birthmark’, I said. ‘I yam what I am!’”

Jack Shalom is a Babson College undergrad in Professor Opie’s course Food and the African American Canon

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Food and the African American Canon Series with Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Food+and+the+African+American+Canon+

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